Jordan Pickford’s time away with the England squad has given him the taste for more – as he looks to impress new national boss Gareth Southgate.
The 22-year-old has been in stunning form for Sunderland this season since taking over as No 1 from Vito Mannone.
Pickford’s form resulted in a call-up to the main England squad and he was on the bench at Wembley for the recent 3-0 World Cup qualifier victory over Scotland and the friendly draw with Spain.
The stopper insists his focus is on next summer’s European Championships in Poland with England Under-21s.
But he admits time spent training with the main squad has given him a taste for more.
“I had a good week away with the England lads, it was a really good learning experience and I got a good feel for it,” Pickford told the Echo.
“It was great to be training with and learning from Joe Hart and Tom Heaton every day and being involved in the team.
“It was my first time at Wembley and I was on the bench.
“It is great for me from a learning point of view.
“I always want to get better and what an experience it was to be away with the national team.
“It certainly gave me a taste for more and I just have to keep working as hard as possible.
“I have the Euros in the summer with England Under-21s, so I don’t want to look past that.
“I want to be successful with the Under-21s and then hopefully go from there,” added Washington-born Pickford.
Former Aston Villa, Middlesbrough and England defender Southgate was confirmed as the new national boss yesterday after a successful four game spell in charge following Sam Allardyce’s departure after just one game.
Southgate knows Pickford well from his time as Under-21 manager, with the young stopper highly-regarded after starring since becoming a Premier League regular this season.
Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur have long been credited with an interest in Pickford, who got his chance after Mannone was ruled out for two months with an elbow injury earlier in the campaign.
Mannone returned to the Sunderland squad for the 3-0 home win over Hull City but is facing a lengthy spell deputising on the bench given the form of Pickford.
Pickford starred in the club’s back-to-back victories over Bournemouth and Hull City, which propelled the Black Cats to within three points of Premier League safety.
Sunderland remain bottom of the league, though, ahead of the visit of Champions Leicester City to the Stadium of Light on Saturday.